By admin | June 4, 2012
By Richard Allen
There were two Late Model feature races held at the Tazewell Speedway on Sunday. One was won by a driver who dominated all night and the other was won by a driver who did not assume the lead until he crossed under the white flag.
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tennessee took control of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event on the high banked 1/3 mile track right from the outset and never looked back. The Hall of Fame driver served notice in qualifying that he had every intention of ruling the night when he established a new track record with a time of 10.822 seconds. The two drivers who most closely followed Bloomquist, and thus also earned top starting spots in their respective heat races, were Don O’Neal and John Blankenship.
Those three drivers each collected heat race victories.
LOLMDS points leader Jimmy Owens did not fare as well as his closest pursuers in the standings(O’Neal and Bloomquist) during the preliminary events. The Newport, Tennessee driver posted only the 12th best time in qualifying among the 22 drivers to make an attempt. That relegated him to a 4th place starting position in the third heat. He eventually placed 3rd in the ten lap race which was good enough to earn him a 9th place spot on the feature starting grid.
Once the 50 lap feature got underway it was Bloomquist who took command immediately. He roared to the front and maintained a relatively comfortable lead throughout the event.
Don O’Neal and Billy Ogle, Jr. took turns running second and giving chase to the leader. There were a couple of times in in traffic in which each was able to close in a bit on the Team Zero car but neither ever made a serious challenge for the lead.
“The traffic is always an issue here, we ran up on some cars and I backed off the throttle a little,” Bloomquist explained in victory lane. “I didn’t know how close Don (O’Neal) was, but I had to be careful.”
But just because the front spot was hardly in question doesn’t mean the racing wasn’t intense. O’Neal and Ogle fought each other for the runner-up spot all night, even exchanging that position on successive restarts late in the race.
Drivers such as Earl Pearson, Jr., Jonathan Davenport, Jared Landers, Jimmy Owens and Steve Francis traded places within the top-10 throughout the feature, especially as the front runners dealt with traffic.
There were two significant incidents during the main event as well. On lap 28, Landers found himself entangled with the lapped car of Bryan Hendrix. As the two machines exited turn two, the Landers car actually climbed onto the back of the Hendrix car. Both were significantly damaged although each was able to log a few more laps.
On lap 33, Tyler Reddick and Jeff Wolfenbarger got together on the backstretch. Reddick’s car was damaged to the point that he was forced to withdraw from the race at that point.
Overall, it was essentially a perfect night for Bloomquist. “The car was just phenomenal tonight,” he said after earning his 45th career win on the LOLMDS tour. “The Roush Yates Racing Engine ran perfect and the car handled so well, right from hot laps on. I want to thank my crew, sponsors, and everybody with my race team. Hopefully we can get on a roll again.”
The finishing order was Bloomquist, O’Neal, Ogle, Blankenship, Pearson, Davenport, Owens, Francis, Vic Hill and Eric Wells.
In the Tazewell(Limited) Late Model feature, Steve Smith appeared to be on his way to matching Bloomquist’s feat of domination. However, as the cars raced toward the white flag, Smith’s machine suffered a catastrophic failure and lost power. Travis Fultz was the driver in the right place at the right time as he took over the lead with only one lap remaining.
Fultz then had to hold off a strong bid by Jason Trammell that saw the two cars briefly go side by side in the final set of turns. Those two were 1st and 2nd followed by Greg Estes, Jody Horton, Brad Lowe and Phillip Nichols.
Clyde Overholt beat out Warren McMahan and Robbie Buchanan to win in the Modified Street class. Robbie Sands won in the Classics over Joe Keck.